Most of us did not come from perfect backgrounds with ideal childhoods filled continuously with acceptance by all, bliss, support, and love. There were hard times. There were pitfalls. There were situations where life was unfair, maybe even brutally so. There were mistakes. There were cases of “gross, poor judgment,” to borrow an old Citadel phrase. But the thing to remember is that God can put our past aside with respect to his judgment. The grace God provides covers our sins yesterday, today, and tomorrow. That’s not an excuse to go out and sin, because if we’re truly grateful to God for His forgiveness, the last thing we want to do is draw His ire again. The point is that whatever our past is, it doesn’t have to control our present. After all, consider these words given to Ezekiel:
“Now behold, he has a son who has observed all his father’s sins which he committed, and observing does not do likewise. He does not eat at the mountain shrines or lift up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, or defile his neighbor’s wife, or oppress anyone, or retain a pledge, or commit robbery, but he gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with clothing, he keeps his hand from the poor, does not take interest or increase, but executes My ordinances, and walks in My statutes; he will not die for his father’s iniquity, he will surely live.
“As for his father, because he practiced extortion, robbed his brother and did what was not good among his people, behold, he will die for his iniquity.
“Yet you say, ‘Why should the son not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity?’ When the son has practiced justice and righteousness and has observed all My statutes and done them, he shall surely live. The person who sins will die The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son’s iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself. But if the wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed and observes all My statutes and practices justice and righteousness, he shall surely live; he shall not die. All his transgressions which he has committed will not be remembered against him; because of his righteousness which he has practiced, he will live.
– Ezekiel 18:14-22, NASB
Whatever it is in our past that is less than exemplary, it doesn’t have to hold us back. If we came from an ungodly background, that doesn’t matter. With respect to each of us, God isn’t looking to what our moms or dads or uncles or grandfathers did. He’s looking to see what we do. If we walk away from sins of the past and choose paths of righteousness, then God is pleased. If our own past is littered with mistakes and sin, we can still choose to put all that behind us and choose to do it God’s way from here on out. God will honor that decision to follow His Son and surrender our lives over to Him for eternity. With those actions He applies the grace He has prepared for those who have accepted Christ once and for all. So our past holds us captive no longer! Remember:
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. – 2 Corinthians 5:17-19, NASB
If you find yourself struggling against something from your past, lean on the Holy Spirit. Let Him break your chains. Let Him guide you with the words from Scripture that affirm that we are remade and our transgressions are not held against any longer by God the Father. Rather, He is asking us to step past them, to walk with Him, and to live for Him. Our purpose in this life isn’t to stay trapped behind the mistakes and laments of our past. Rather, our mission is to glorify Him now!